Helping A Military Family Reunite in an Emergency

Written by: Jeff Revisky I’m employed at Scott Air Force Base and have been working with the military for 34 years, including the time I served in the Army and my current work as a government employee/security manager. My family recently returned from Germany where my son, Kyle, attended school on base, so my family is very familiar with military life, and consequently, very familiar with the Red Cross.

This year on October 3, at 4:55 am my wife and I received the call every parent dreads. It was the chaplain at St. Louis University Hospital advising us to get the hospital as fast as we could because our son Kyle had been in a terrible car accident. Knowing nothing else, we drove to the hospital. They allowed us to see Kyle for a minute before rushing him to surgery. Doctors were trying to stabilize him and determine his injuries. Later, we learned, in darkness and pouring rain, he had totaled his car on the interstate. When Kyle got out of his car, he was struck by an oncoming car going 65-70 mph.

We immediately began contacting family, still not knowing if Kyle would survive. We called our son Justin and told him his brother had been in a car accident. Justin wanted to come home, and we needed him home. The only way we knew to get Justin home was through the Red Cross.

The chaplain gave us the number for the Red Cross; we called and they immediately went to work behind the scenes, doing all the leg work, so we could focus on our son.

In just a few hours, the Red Cross had helped Justin complete everything he needed, and by 1 p.m. the following day, Justin was home. During that time, the Red Cross contacted us several times to make sure everything was progressing as it should. Amazingly, Kyle knew Justin was there; Justin gave Kyle the support that only a brother can give. Although not here long, Justin was home long enough to see his brother come off the life support.

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Kyle, telling his story about his recovery

My family is forever grateful to the Red Cross for supporting our family though this tragedy, but we know the Red Cross is always there for the military families– all over the world, providing support 24/7. We can never repay them for what they have done for us, so on behalf of our family and our soldier, Justin, THANK YOU! Thank you for your dedication to our military and their families. You will forever hold a place in our hearts and your act of kindness will never be forgotten.

Introducing Wilma St. Onge: A Scott AFB Red Cross Volunteer

Written By: Kari Ross, Communications Volunteer

Wilma has been a Red Cross volunteer for Scott AFB for 17 years. There have been a lot of changes in those 17 years, however, her 3 day a week volunteer service to this community is not one of them. I asked her how she became affiliated with the organization and she simply said, “I went to an Officers Club Spouse event one day and the Red Cross had a booth. I signed a volunteer paper, handed it back to them and I have been a volunteer ever since.” There is much more to Wilma’s story and it all centers around service.

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As a retired Airman herself, she spent 20 years as a Communications Officer before retiring in 1994. She is a veteran of the Gulf War and Operation Desert Storm. Though she was a Communications Officer in the Air Force, she said she learned many of her computer skills from being a volunteer with the Red Cross. It is just one of the benefits of being a volunteer that Wilma says she acquired. She boasts, “I like that sometimes I know more about computers than my kids.”

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Volunteering is important to Wilma and she stated she would love to see more involvement from the Scott community. Stating, “I’m not sure people know about all of the individual things the Red Cross does.” To that she said she is willing to answer questions for those who are considering volunteering but just may not know how to get through the process or what is available. She understands that some things still need that personal touch and that the application process can be confusing. She said the technology and applications are wonderful, though, and it is all worth it in the end.

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Giving back to the community is important for Wilma and in recognition of the dedication and commitment she has shown she was awarded with the Clara Barton Award in 2011. This is the highest award that can be given to a Red Cross volunteer as it recognizes their meritorious service. She said, “Volunteering makes me feel good and as with anything, you don’t have to be good when you start, you just have to persevere.”

To learn more about volunteer opportunities at the Red Cross go to www.redcross.org/stl and check out the Scott AFB Red Cross’s Facebook Page. The Scott AFB Red Cross is located at: 411 POW / MIA St Bldg 21 Scott Air Force Base, Illinois 62225 and the telephone number is at 618.256.3292

Red Cross working to ensure you have a fire safety plan

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By Brett Murray, Communications Intern

Seven times a day, someone in this country dies in a home fire. To save lives, the Red Cross launched nationwide campaign to reduce the number of fire related deaths and injuries from home fires by 25 percent. The Red Cross has reached into local, fire-prone communities with fire safety campaigns.

Armed with batteries and smoke alarms, Red Cross volunteers canvassed the Metro-East community of Belleville, IL, to test, install or replace the devices last Saturday, as a part of National Fire Prevention Week. Over 50 volunteers went door-to-door throughout the day and offered to test and replace each homes’ smoke alarm or create a preparedness plan in case of fire. You can see some of their volunteer efforts here. Overall, they installed 49 smoke alarms, 20 batteries and created 29 preparedness plans, with the help of the Belleville police and fire departments, St. Paul United Church of Christ and the City of Belleville.

In addition to our local efforts, the Red Cross worked with the Today show to unveil some new facts and figures about residential fires. For instance, 52 percent of Americans have never talked to their kids about fire safety, and 82 percent of families never practiced a family fire drill. These figures are alarming enough, but the Today show took things a step further and found a Connecticut family who demonstrated what they might do in the event of a kitchen fire.  During the video, we see the family review their response and go over their mistakes with Ryan O’Donnell of BullEx, a fire safety company. To read the full article and watch the video, visit the Today show website.

You can prepare for a home fire by using the Red Cross Home Fire Safety checklist and the Home Fire Escape Plan, which helps you prevent fires and map out your escape route in the event of one. These materials can be found on the Red Cross website. One invaluable prevention method is a smoke alarm. Smoke alarms cut the chances of dying in a home fire by half.  For a minimal cost, you can keep your family safe by simply installing at least one smoke alarm on each floor of your home and replacing the batteries annually.

Disaster Services helps disaster victims and heroes

By Brett Murray, Communications Intern

Every day throughout our 66-county region, American Red Cross Disaster Services volunteers respond to local home fires. They insure that families who suffer these individual disasters have a safe place to stay, clothing, warm meals and emotional support.  At these fires, Red Cross volunteers not only aid the families, they also provide refreshments to the firefighters who respond. Volunteers for decades have given cookies and punch to those who battle the blaze.

Recently, Disaster volunteers went on a fire call. It was one of the responders first time “in the field,” and many of the veteran firefighters joked about how he had to try “the famous Red Cross punch.” The Red Cross has a long-standing commitment to help these men and women as they help others.  It was eye-opening to learn that drinking our punch is seen as a “rite of passage” for the first responders.  It told me that the Red Cross mission goes beyond basic necessities.

Whether it’s providing refreshments to the firefighters or providing shelter to the victims of a fire, the Red Cross is here to help. For more information about our Disaster Services, click here and for more images of Disaster Services, click here.

Stay Safe this Labor Day Weekend

Travel Preparedness

Many people will be taking road trips, spending time at the beach, and having cookouts this weekend. The American Red Cross offers safety tips to help everyone have a safe and enjoyable time.

“We encourage everyone to take a few simple, safety steps when spending time on the road, at the beach, and at cookouts,” said Cindy Erickson, CEO of the American Red Cross Greater St. Louis Region. “Start by downloading our free First Aid and Swim apps.”

People should also follow these safety tips:

Tips for Safe Travel

  • Take emergency supplies such as food and water, a flashlight, and a First Aid kit.
  • Let someone know your destination, your route, and when you expect to arrive.
  • Buckle up and obey traffic signs.
  • Avoid texting and talking on the phone while driving.
  • Don’t drink and drive.

Tips for Safe Swimming

  • Check weather and beach conditions throughout the day.
  • Always swim in an area supervised by a lifeguard and obey all warnings.
  • Provide close and constant attention to children in or near the water.
  • Stay within arm’s reach of young children and inexperienced swimmers while they are in the water.
  • Young children, inexperienced swimmers and boaters should wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets.

Tips for Safe Grilling

  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Keep children and pets away from the grill.
  • Never add charcoal starter fluid after coals have been ignited.
  • Use long-handled utensils.
  • Don’t leave the grill unattended while in use.

The Red Cross has a series of mobile apps in case people run into severe weather or need expert advice on what to do in case of an emergency. People can go to redcross.org/apps for information.

 

Red Cross helps ease minds in Ferguson

 

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The Red Cross provided meals for the residents of Ferguson this past week. Click the photo above to see more images of our response.

By Brett Murray, Communications Intern

The citizens of Ferguson, Mo., encountered more turmoil in the past weeks than most communities experience in decades. Yet in spite of a crisis that captured worldwide attention, the chaos and violence of recent nights didn’t crush the strong and optimistic spirit of Ferguson residents.

To help the community, the American Red Cross joined with other regional organizations last week to open a resource and respite center at the Dellwood Recreation Complex, just east of Ferguson. At the Dellwood center, the Red Cross, United Way, Salvation Army, Urban League and other agencies, came together to offer residents bill payment assistance, counseling sessions, shelter and relocation services and meals, which the Red Cross provided. Throughout the week, we provided snacks and meals for more than 3,200 residents of Ferguson.  

Though most citizens came for services, many used the opportunity to relax and get their minds off of the events of recent nights. The center also hosted a Kid Zone and lounge, where kids could be kids again, and parents could take a break, without fearing for their children’s safety.  

At the center, all hoped their town would become safe and quiet again; children wanted to return to school and adults to work. Unfortunately, last week that wasn’t an option.  Riots, protests, police barricades continued though the weekend.

Although the Red Cross couldn’t give an “all-clear” that residents so desperately wanted, we, with our partner agencies, certainly gave real comfort to those struggling to cope.  We achieved the Red Cross mission: alleviating suffering in the face of emergency.

The drop-In center was open last week from 10:00am to 2:00pm through Sunday. We all hope it doesn’t need to reopen this week. 

To see more photos of our response, click here.

St. Louis Red Cross is Saving Lives!

Urgent need for blood and platelet donors

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This morning at the Greater St. Louis regional headquarters, people rolled up their sleeves to donate blood! We hosted a blood drive for the Missouri-Illinois Blood Services Region. With the amount of blood collected just this morning – we will help save more than 50 lives! What an amazing thing!

Pictured above: Red Cross employees Hannah Bruce and Chris Shanahan, Red Cross intern (and first-time donor!) Kyara Green, and volunteer blood drive coordinator/Red Cross volunteer specialist Marie Rantz.

The American Red Cross is facing a looming blood shortage, leading to an urgent need for donors of all blood types to roll up a sleeve and give. Donations were down approximately 8 percent over the last 11 weeks, resulting in about 80,000 fewer donations than expected.

Share your good health! Platelet donors and blood donors with types O negative, B negative and A negative blood are especially needed. Type O negative is the universal blood type and can be transfused to anyone who needs blood. Types A negative and B negative can be transfused to Rh positive or negative patients.

With schools out of session and many regular donors busy or on vacation, it’s important to remember that patients don’t get a break from needing blood — the need is constant.

Many people say they don’t give blood or platelets because they were never asked. Consider yourself asked! Please roll up a sleeve and give blood for patients in need and help prevent an emergency shortage. For more information or to find a nearby donation opportunity, visit redcrossblood.org or call 1-800-RED CROSS.